"Darling, it was the best dinner I've ever had in my life! It was like being in Paris in 1915. I swear, I expected to see Colette or Mistinguett come wafting around the corner at any moment!"
I took a sip of coffee and asked what he was talking about. Did some new restaurant open?
No, as it turned out. Ned was delirious over the Night of Song event that Le Fou Frog (400 East Fifth Street) hosts on the second Tuesday of every month, with at least three vocalists (often more) performing in the dining room from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. (The next one is planned for June 10.)
"There was a cast of thousands!" Ned said, his voice climbing several octaves. "These singers walked through the restaurant, singing to the people at the tables. And they were all beautiful!"
I asked him how much he had been drinking.
"Just several glasses of wine with the dinner, which was divine. It cost $55 -- $75 including wine -- and there was one superb course after another. It started with a duck confit pudding, then a litchi-nut sorbet, then a salad, then filet mignon Rossini topped with foie gras, followed by sea bass topped with soft-shell crab, sun-dried tomatoes and corn."
I'll confess now, I was jealous. Ned went on to say that he hadn't made a reservation (though the restaurant's owners, Mano and Barbara Rafael, strongly encourage them), so he sat at the bar and ate, drank and applauded all night long. "The place was simply packed with Mission Hills socialites," he said. "Even Crosby Kemper, the old one."
Barbara Rafael says they came up with the idea several months ago with George Harter (host of KXTR 1660's Night on the Town show) and tenor Nathan Granner. Word of mouth has lured patrons for the festivities, where diners can order off the regular menu or choose a $65 pre-fixe dinner created by Mano Rafael and James Landis. Because the singing starts at 6:30 p.m., that's when most customers pile into the place.
"It was like being in a movie," sighed Ned. "My kind of movie."